iGnite instructor and water sports enthusiast Kathleen Parker shares what it is that makes her tick and gives her that contagious enthusiasm we all know and love.
1. How did you come to love the water so much?
I grew up on the water. Being blessed with a family lake house since childhood, my siblings and I were on or in the water all day every summer. I am the youngest of 6 kids, so keeping up with 4 big brothers and a sister forced me into the water a little earlier than most. I learned to ski at the age of 5 and was driving the boat and pulling skiers at the age of 9.
2. Any advice for someone who hasn’t ever tried water sports and is intimidated to try them now?
Water is a “happy place.” I read somewhere that people are 60% happier when they are in, on or near water. Wake surfing is a gentle sport for ALL ages. The iGnite Lake Escape is a safe and fun environment with supportive and encouraging women cheering you on. It does not get any better than being on Lake Austin on a Wednesday morning!!
3. What is your teaching philosophy?
I have always loved the saying “Challenge leads to change.” I think this covers all of what we promote in iGnite. Challenging the body, mind and spirit to reach new levels keeps us healthy and strong inside and out. My dad always told us that if we keep our body fit and strong, our mind will follow. Just like keeping a car running–when one part goes, the car stops running.
4. What is the best piece of life advice you’ve been given and from who?
I would like to share TWO. My Dad is fearless in all aspects of his life. He wakes up every morning looking at the day as a “great adventure.” He is 90 years old, a successful real estate investor and still wants to race me down his driveway.
Second, Neissa Springmann (the founder of iGnite) led me to find my passion and follow it and live each day with purpose. I would not be doing what I am doing now if I had not taken that to heart.
5. What is something people may not know about you?
I have triplets! And I can still do the “splits,” but I cannot throw a ball.
6. Outside of iGnite, what is your favorite way to stay active and fit?
Anything that involves having fun! From April to October, water skiing and wakesurfing. In the winter, snowboarding, but we were actually water skiing through December last year!
In Austin? Join Kathleen weekly this summer at one of her many classes:
Who says that staying in shape has to go out the window when you’re traveling? The energizing effects of starting off each day of your vacation with a quick 15-20 minute pick-me-up workout will have you enjoying the escape even more. Staying active while away requires nothing more than 15 to 20 minutes and two light, inexpensive and easily packable tools: a jump rope and an elastic resistance band.
We’ve made things easy for you! Toss your jump rope and elastic band in your bag (together they weigh less than 7 ounces!), follow this workout created and demonstrated by iGnite founder Neissa Springmann three times per week (resting at least one day between workouts), and you’re good to go.
Repeat Exercises #1-5 three times with 30 seconds of rest between each exercise.
Total Time: 15-20 minutes
Exercise #1: Jumping Rope
- Form: Stay light and on your toes
- Benefits: Great cardiovascular exercise that works all muscles
- Don’t have a jump rope? Jumping jacks are a great alternative.
Exercise #2: Push-Up
1 Set of 10-15
- Form: Position arms wide at a 90 degree angle, chest falls between arms, tighten core and firm glutes to protect the lower back and look at the tip of your mat (don’t allow your head to droop). To decrease difficulty, drop to knees.
- Benefits: Works chest, arms and core (when tightening the abdominals)
Exercise #3: Squat to Shoulder Press
1 Set of 20
- Form: While holding the handles of the resistance band, stand with feet hip width distance apart (6 -12 in.) on your resistance band. Squat, while keeping weight in the heels, eyes forward and chest open. Come to standing while pressing the resistance bands above the head and firming the glutes. For less resistance, alternate arms.
- Benefits: Works glutes, quads, hamstrings and shoulders.
Exercise #4: Plank
30 seconds – 1 minute
- Form: Position body so shoulders and elbows are in alignment. Look slightly forward while pulling shoulders away from your ears, firming glutes and pulling abdominals up and in. If lower back bothers you, lift glutes higher or drop to your knees.
- Benefits: Works all core muscles (abdominals and lower back) and shoulders.
Exercise #5: Alternating Lunge
1 Set of 20 (10 each leg)
- Form: Start standing tall and looking forward. Step one leg out in front, making sure the ankle and knee are in alignment, with the back leg bent and the heel lifted up toward the sky. With a strong core and eyes forward, push off the front leg and come to standing again, to then alternate legs.
- Benefits: Works glutes, hamstrings and quads.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
– Dale Carnegie
Point to Ponder:
Are you an active participant in the game of your life or are you watching it from the sidelines?
Choose one of your fears and take action to defeat it.
Airline travel is 29 times safer than driving an automobile, and I’ve never had a bad experience; yet, I remain desperately afraid to fly. Every time I fly, I go through the same ritual: find my window seat; say a prayer; and fall asleep as quickly as possible (preferably before take-off). My routine prevents me from letting my imagination and fears run wild.
I have no idea why I have this fear. What I do know is that NOT flying is NOT an option. If I had let my fear of flying prevail, I never would have seen the Virgin Islands, Maui, the San Juan Islands, or gone to Lake Placid or a number of other places I have been lucky enough to visit. Fear could have prevented me from experiencing new things, from starting iGnite, and from meeting and working with you.
Having fear is normal. It is how we choose to let fear affect our lives that is most important. Does fear motivate or paralyze you? Do you give it power by talking about it instead of taking action? Or do you look it in the face, call it by name and then take action and conquer it?
Giving in to fear can become habitual. The more you allow fear to stop you from taking action, the more it will show up in your life and take control. Confront fear with courage and confidence. Taking courageous, confident actions can also be habit-forming. But these are good habits, allowing you to live a life full of new experiences. Use fear as a stepping stone to motivate you and get you going!
The question we need to ask ourselves daily regarding fear is one phrased so well by University of Texas Women’s Track Coach Bev Kearney, a woman who has overcome amazing physical challenges as a result of a horrific car accident. She asks:
Are you in the game or on the sideline?
How would you answer? Fear keeps us on the sidelines, while courage, confidence and action put us in the game. I know I choose to be in the game of living life! This week, choose a fear you have and take action to overcome it. I’d love to hear about your choice and help you succeed— email me!
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”- Marianne Williamson
Point to Ponder:
Do your surroundings influence your pace and dictate your personality and behavior?
Life is a team effort, so connect, share, and ask for help.
After graduating from UT, I decided that Texas was too small. I wanted to experience the “real world,” so I moved to the BIG APPLE!
I was impressed by the fast pace and fascinated by the around-the-clock harmonious honking of horns and the lifestyle of my 11 million new friends. To avoid looking like a tourist, I copied their behavior, rushing through the city with confidence, head down, and avoiding eye contact with anyone. No one was interested in connecting with me. So I became disinterested in connecting with them.
But just as quickly as Manhattan had allured me, so had it come to irritate me. I wanted to make eye contact, to exchange a smile, or to just say hello. I wanted an apology from the man who came within inches of hitting me with his car while I was legally crossing the street. I felt my spirit become cold and jaded. I became less confident and less tolerant. I began to view my 11 million new friends as competition. And I eventually joined their choir and impatiently went about my business.
Then one cold, overcast and gloomy winter day after emerging from the subway station, it became clear: Texas wasn’t too small after all. In fact, it was just right. So I moved back!
Much of my New York City experience was a result of my immaturity and naivety. I wasn’t experienced, strong or courageous enough to “be me” back then (and I was broke). I’d like to think that moving there today would be very different. But when I do visit, I notice the same things: everyone is on a cell phone, listening to an iPod, or otherwise disconnected from the sounds and the people around them.
Now, as Austin is growing, I very often see the same behavior; that everyone is virtually connected to something, somewhere, but unconnected to those immediately around them. What irony that we live in a wonderfully virtually connected world, but are less connected with each other than ever?!?!
I’ll be the first to admit that there are many times when I don’t want to talk, make eye contact, or be connected to more than the Internet allows, but I also notice that too little real connection is addictive and dangerous. I can quickly become absorbed in my own world, unaffected by situations that should move my spirit, and begin to rush through life with little tolerance for others. But once I finally connect, share, ask for help, and become accountable to more than just myself, life becomes so much sweeter, pleasant, and fulfilling. And that gives others the confidence to connect share and shine their brightest light. Life is a team effort.
Regardless of your goals, life obstacles, or celebrations, I encourage you to go about each of them with a connected and team spirit, as this is the BEST way to joyfully get where you want to go and abundantly live life.
Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.
During one of Amy’s recent yoga classes, she closed with this quote: “Life doesn’t happen to us. It reveals our true spirit.” I was instantly touched by the quote because it reminded me of my mom—the eternal optimist—who inspires me to write this journal.
My childhood in Riesel (a small farming community outside of Waco) was at times challenging. But being raised by an eternal optimist meant times rarely seemed grim. When I was in the first grade my mom divorced my dad. At the time, my father was an alcoholic. Thankfully, the day my mom moved me and my sister out was the same day my dad divinely quit drinking—cold turkey. He has been alcohol free ever since—another journal for another day.
It was too late to reconcile as mounds of damage had already been done. My mother was no longer in love with my father and knew she had to get me and my sister out of our negative environment so she moved us into an apartment in a nearby town. My sister and I were able to stay in the same school so life barely changed. If anything, life got better!! We thought nothing of it.
Everything seemed normal with the exception of our father not living with us. Within a year, my mom began dating and my dad became reacquainted with a college sweetheart. Dad married my stepmother, Brenda, and they’ve been married ever since. We became a very civil divorced family who attended the same church and even sat in the same pew together. Can you can imagine how strange this might have looked?!? We thought nothing of it.
It wasn’t too long before we moved back to Riesel. Our new home was old and with no central air or heat. The three of us shared one bedroom and changed our habits to suit the season. In the winter, Mom would get up extra early (4:30 a.m.) to light space heaters for us. And when the water heater ran out of butane, she’d boil huge pots of water on the stove for our baths. We thought nothing of it.
During the school year Mom always prepared and delivered our breakfast to us on the couch. There the three of us would eat, put on our makeup together and talk about EVERYTHING! Mom would iron our clothes for the day and see to it that our lunches were made. By 7:30 a.m., we all looked like a million bucks and headed out the door. We thought nothing of it.
I could go on and on with more stories about the eternal optimist, but what I love and appreciate the most about my mom is her spirit. She protected and nurtured us. Only later in life did my sister and I learn the truth about the hardships she endured.
The apartment she had moved us to was government subsidized housing. We thought nothing of it because there was no more fighting, and we found fun in climbing the stairs and meeting the new neighbors.
The clothes she gave us were mostly hand-me-downs or painstakingly handmade. We thought nothing of it because we loved going to Wal-mart to look for patterns and material so we could have a new Easter, Christmas, or banquet dresses. Mom even made my sister’s Jr. Prom dress which was ALL RED SEQUINS!!!
The times we ran out of butane were because she sometimes couldn’t pay the bill. We thought nothing of it because she boiled water on the stove for us. And the school cafeteria food was awful, but we thought nothing of it because Mom always made our lunches to spare us.
We were financially poor. But thanks to Mom’s faith and eternal optimistic spirit, we were spiritually rich. Throughout the many struggles she endured, we never saw her cry or heard her complain. She reinforced the importance of faith, family, health and humor. She stayed focused on making the best of every situation and after every game, event or activity we participated in, even if we lost by fifty points, she was always the first to greet us with her BIG smile and optimistic attitude. She always told us how great we did and never what we should or could have done to win.
Financially, life is better for us all now, but we wouldn’t trade our poor upbringing for any amount of money in the world. We are grateful and very often reminisce and laugh.
Difficult and challenging times are always inevitable in life. What’s critical and is the difference maker is our optimistic attitudes, as our spirit will most likely determine the outcome of our situations. Mom has proven this to me time and time again. But don’t just take my word for it; a 2008 Duke University study showed that cardiac patients who were pessimistic about their recovery we’re twice as likely to die early as those who were optimistic.
As you go about your week and even life, I encourage you to confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. The truth is that life is going to happen with some good and some bad mixed together. The question is: will you have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even through the most challenging situations? I’m optimistic you will!
Point To Ponder:
How do you typically react to situations that don’t go your way?
Confront all situations with an optimistic spirit. Have an unshakable faith and spirit that radiates so brightly that you’ll flourish even when the outlook appears grim.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
As we all know, Hurricane Sandy blew through the east coast causing devastating damage to countless homes. Every night the national news continues to report on the people of New York and New Jersey whose houses are in ruins and are still without power. This of course is unimaginable and almost more than the human spirit can withstand; however, I have noticed a common thread amongst our neighbors in the East: they are sticking together like glue. Each time someone is interviewed they use words like “my friends” or “neighbors,” as they are having to rely heavily on one another to get through each day.
Mary Catherine Jarvis, a.k.a. “MC,” the free-spirited old soul and daughter of iGnite Member Anne Jarvis, lives in Manhattan and was without power for almost a week. MC shared what I think is remarkable perspective.
We are still without power and it is projected that power will not be restored until Saturday. So until then, we are candlelit. The one advantage to this whole thing is camaraderie: without cable, internet or cell service we have had to rely on good ol’ fashioned conversation to get us through. Each night people come over and we sit by candle light, drink room temp beverages, and talk and/or play board games. It has been fun, and tricky since you never really know when people are outside your apartment (no cell, no electricity to buzz people in).
It’s ironic to think that the city that never sleeps, slept, and I can only imagine how incredibly inconvenient and costly this tropical storm will prove to be. However, the gift of human touch, fellowship and companionship is where peace has been found.
As we enter the holiday months, I challenge and encourage both you and I to stay focused on people and the gift of camaraderie. Not only is it good for the soul, but taking a break from technology is beneficial for reducing physical and mental stress too.
Check out this week’s video that showcases unique displays of camaraderie, proving that we are created to fulfill one anther’s needs which is something that technology will never accomplish.
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Point To Ponder:
When you are with people, are you focused on them or are you distracted by technology?
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Take a break from technology and plug into people.
To your health,